A cross party delegation from Mid Ulster District Council has met with the Head of First Trust Bank, Des Moore, following the recent announcement that branches are to close in Cookstown and Magherafelt this summer.
Both towns have been included in a closure plan which will see 15 of the 30 existing branches disappear from high streets across Northern Ireland, as First Trust Bank consolidates its network in the face of changes to how customers access banking services.
At the meeting, councillors expressed disappointment with the decision and their concerns about potential job losses and the negative impact on both town centres, as well as the challenges faced by customers accessing online banking services with a lack of reliable and fast broadband in Mid Ulster.
The importance of ensuring both personal and business customers fully understand the alternative banking arrangements available to maintain continuity of customer service was also central to the discussions.
Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Trevor Wilson, who led the delegation, said: “We welcomed the meeting and the robust discussion on the impact of these closures, primarily on staff and the affected customers. We received assurances that there would be no compulsory redundancies and that First Trust intends to engage effectively with its customer base to ensure a smooth transition to the new operations.
“We received assurances that the bank is committed to a voluntary led approach and is currently in consultation with the Financial Services Union. We also noted that First Trust intends to engage effectively with its customer base.”
Des Moore, Head of the Bank said welcomed the discussion of its “reshaping changes” with representatives from Mid-Ulster Council. He stressed they are keen that customers have time to understand all the alternatives.